Busy summer for Raptors

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:53 PM ET

The Raptors may be the best prepared team when the NBA regular season begins in October, or the most exhausted.

The newest member of the squad, shooting guard/small forward Carlos Delfino, said yesterday that he plans to play at the FIBA Americas championship this August in Las Vegas, which is a qualifying event for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

That makes a total of eight Raptors who plan to compete in regional Olympic qualifying tournaments this summer.

All-star forward Chris Bosh will play for the United States (if the Raptors are satisfied that a sore foot which plagued him for much of last season has healed sufficiently), while Jose Calderon (Spain), Jorge Garbajosa (Spain), Uros Slokar (Slovenia), Rasho Nesterovic (Slovenia), Pape Sow (Senegal) and Andrea Bargnani (Italy) also have told their respective federations that they will play. Garbajosa, however, is a long shot to suit up for Spain as he is recovering from a dislocated left ankle joint, which required surgery, and a fractured fibula, suffered during a game on March 26 in Boston. Slokar and Saw both have contracts that expire this summer and may not be back in Toronto.

Toronto general manager Bryan Colangelo said that he is not overly concerned with the fact that many of his key players will taking part in summer qualifying events.

The FIBA Americas championship ends on Sept. 2, which gives Bosh and Delfino, who was acquired last Friday from the Detroit Pistons for two second-round draft picks, almost a month to recuperate before they report for Raptors training camp in Treviso, Italy, on Oct. 1.

The European Olympic qualifier ends in mid September, but the Raptors taking part in that event aren't obligated to leave Europe between the end of that tournament and the start of the Raptors camp.

"They can just meet us in Treviso. So that, obviously, cuts down on the travel," Colangelo said. "That should give everybody plenty of time to rest and recovery."

The Raptors also decided not to enter a team in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. In years past, a second-year player such as Bargnani would have been obligated to play in the Summer League. Now the first pick overall in the 2006 NBA draft can remain in Europe until camp.

Delfino, who was a member of Argentina's gold medal winning team at the 2004 Athens Olympics, confirmed yesterday that he, in fact, asked the Pistons to trade him, and said that he was delighted to have landed in Toronto.

"For me, personally, I needed a change," said Delfino, who enjoyed his best season in Detroit last year, averaging 5.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 16.7 minutes.

However, neither himself nor the Pistons were satisfied with his overall development after three seasons in Motown (he was selected in the first round in 2003, 25th overall).

Delfino said he heard of the trade last week when he and his new bride Martina arrived back in Detroit (literally at the airport) from their honeymoon in Hawaii.

"It's beautiful for me," Delfino said of Toronto. "My wife is Italian. Nothing against Detroit, but it's more alive here."


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